PCKA is partnering with researchers at Purdue University to develop an Autonomous Power Controller (APC) for mission-critical microgrids to supply electric power in a highly autonomous and secure manner to accomplish mission objectives. The APC consists of a centralized controller connected to an array of local component controllers. The centralized controller will be capable of optimal generation and load scheduling, abnormal conditions and/or failure detection, and system restoration, while the local controllers monitor system components and pass sensor data to the centralized controller. The main objectives of the Phase II effort are 1) to validate and augment the controller’s capabilities and 2) to test its performance in a hardware-in-the-loop environment. The hardware development will leverage modular power electronics components designed by PCKA for other efforts. This will allow for cost-effective hardware testing of the control algorithms. Potential applications of the APC will be in deep space explorations, aeronautic flights, and special human habitats, where human supervision of the electric power systems is limited and availability of electric power is critical to mission success.
The most immediate NASA applications for this technology is NASAs Deep Space Gateway DSG system which was the focus of the development in the Phase1.The electrical power systems of International Space Station and Exploration Augmentation Module are similar in nature i.e. dc system based on solar arrays and battery energy storage so they are also potential applications for the technology.The APC will also have potential applications in aircraft electrical propulsion systems where electrical system is missioncritical.NASAs CAS & NEAT programs are examples of such systems.PCKA also has existing models of these systems to facilitate future application of the APC.
While the proposed effort is focused on spacecraft power systems other types of power systems could take advantage of the control technology.The underlying control architecture can be applied to essentially any type of microgrid power system.Terrestrial microgrids do not suffer the same communication latency as deep-space systems however autonomous control of these systems would greatly improve performance through optimal operating point identification & automated reconfiguration in response to faults or disturbances.It should be noted that these systems can be either ac or dc in nature however the APC formulation can remain largely the same.Furthermore the teams approach to development of the control using a simulation-based testbed allows efficient development testing & validation of the approach to a wide array of systems.